Category Archives: Memory Lane

We Can Be Compassion

Today there are a 1000 voices coming together for compassion.

I’ve been excited about this project from the moment it came across my Facebook feed. It’s such a beautiful goal, and I thought it fit in nicely with my 2015 resolution to spread more kindness. And if the start to our 2015 hasn’t opened Scotty and I up to compassion and kindness, then we need a lot of help.

In my heart and mind, compassion and kindness go hand in hand. They are one, interchangeable. Maybe that’s not the way for everyone, but that’s how it is for me. And so as I sat this week working on this post, I wondered how I would approach it. I had many different ideas as I readied myself for bed last night.

Then I read this post from Tamara. And I knew what I wanted to write.

Compassion is what I strive to teach my son, what, I think, all us parents strive to teach our children. But, as Tamara pointed out, it’s so often the little ones who teach us. I read her post and was reminded of a time my son was a wee bit younger. We were picking out a Christmas gift for the Angel Tree and I was telling him how there are some children in the world who can’t have big Christmases like ours. How we share our blessings by giving to those less fortunate. I think maybe he was four at the time.

That night at home, I walked into his room to get him ready for bed and found him wrapping some of his favorite toys in his blankets. I asked what he was doing and he said,

“Mama, I want to give these toys to the angel kids who can’t have Christmas. Can we share these ones with them?”

I tried to hide my tears as I sat on his bed and praised him and his big heart. I told him we would donate his toys the next day, if he wanted to, and I helped him stack them by his bedroom door.

My heart overflowed that night.

Children are not born knowing hate or discrimination. They are not born knowing the woes of the world. They are sweet and innocent little sponges who soak up all that we show them, whether we intend it or not.

We adults have years of the world hardening our hearts, years of skepticism and judgement (however unintentional it may be) in our minds. We no longer see the world as simply as our children, but we can.

We can step back and take a lesson from those we’re supposed to be teaching. We can FEEL again, and lead with open hearts. We can show compassion and kindness, it really isn’t that hard. Nor does it require that much.

Buy coffee for the person behind you in line. Smile at your neighbor and ask how they are, instead of brushing by impatiently. Leave a Star Wars Valentine at random places throughout your weekend. Pass along a blender you’re not using to someone who needs or wants one. Text that friend whom you haven’t heard from, maybe they just need to know someone is thinking of them. Hold the door open for a stranger. Take flowers to work to brighten the office for you AND all of your coworkers. Donate to your local mission. Make sandwiches and take them to the homeless on the streets.

We can all do these things, we can all be these people. We can be the change we wish to see, we can be the hope in this worn and weary world.

We can be the little boy giving his beloved Finding Nemo and Lego toys to the less fortunate.

We can be compassion.

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A Year In Review 2014

After spending New Year’s Eve playing cards and games with my fiance and one of our good friends while our dogs played and hid from the fireworks, I spent a chunk of New Year’s Day in the ER with some odd symptoms. Muscle tremors, shooting pains, and random numbness throughout my left arm/elbow/hand. Turns out I’m fighting a harder RA flare than I knew, and this was just another manifestation of that. They fitted me with a sling to keep the arm elevated and told me to go home, take my pain meds and…REST.

Anyone else hate being told to rest all the time? No? Just me?

Anywho, this morning I was getting caught up on blogging and showing some of my blogger peeps some love, and I found this on Tamara’s site. And I thought, “Yes, I need to do this!” So here you go, loves, my 2014 in review, and some hopes for 2015.

What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

I had an article published. 

Got our adorable doggy, the first pet Scotty and I’ve had together.

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I started Remicade infusions for RA treatment. I’ve never had any sort of infusion before.

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I did, and I will! For 2015, I want to focus on living better. I want to spread kindness and joy and do my part to make the world a better place.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

A few of my dear friends blessed us with babies this year. Rebecca, Crys, and Fallah all had adorable bundles of joy ❤

Did anyone close to you die?

Not anyone I know personally, but the loss of Robin Williams touched me deeply. I grew up with him, and it breaks my heart to know the world is missing his genius.

What countries did you visit?

Sadly, none. We’re hoping to visit Canada later this year.

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

A blender. A yard for our doggy to run and play.

What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory?

I don’t have a specific date, just little snippets throughout the year that make me smile. The look of joy on my fiance’s face as he played his music again. My son and fiance exploring the space museum together.

MercuryCapsule

My doggy running through the tall grass at the dog park. Game nights with my fiance. Nights at Denny’s with Kristen and Seth. Civil War on the big screen. Evenings with Cathy.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Following my dream of being a writer. It involved more than just sharing my words here with you. I put myself out there more and faced my fear of rejection. I hope to continue this in 2015 and maybe finally finish a book.

What was your biggest failure?

This question really stumped me. I think as long as you continue to learn from your mistakes, nothing is a failure. As for me, I’m still learning.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

Still rocking the battle against my autoimmune disorders. I was also diagnosed with TMJ, and am awaiting an appointment with a oral maxi-facial specialist to determine our treatment plan.  I also had a bout with chemical poisoning. Joy.

What was the best thing you bought?

I honestly can’t think of anything right now. Does the cheesy popcorn I’m calling my lunch count?

Whose behavior merited celebration?

My fiance, who continues to be by side and hold my hand as I walk this path.

Tian

Where did most of your money go?

Bills.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Time with my son.

Family(framed)

 

Planning our wedding. Making a new friend. A visit from Kristen and Seth.

What song will always remind you of 2014?

Foo Fighters Something From Nothing

Compared to this time last year, are you:

Happier or sadder?  Happier
Thinner or fatter?  Thinner, though I still have a ways to go.
Richer or poorer?  About the same, I guess. Scotty did get a raise, but those bills keep coming and they’ve just increased our rent, so…

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Living. Chasing dreams. Crafting. Learning new things.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Hurting. Being stressed and anxious.

Did you fall in love in 2013?

I fall in love with my fiance every day. I fell in love with our doggy when we first met him and knew he needed to come live with us.

How many one-night stands?

None. Or 365 with the same man, however you want to look at it.

Who were your best friends?

All of my friends are best. Kristen and Seth. Nolan and Courtney. All my girls, the sisters of my heart. Kerry. Cathy ❤

What thing did you do that was meaningful to others?

I continued to share my stories. The crew helped me launch the Spoons 4 Spoonies website so we can continue to offer support to those battling chronic illness.

What were your favorite TV programs?

Once Upon A Time. Just about anything true crime related. Sonic Highways.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I try not to hate anyone, it’s so bad for your own well-being. But there are a few people I wouldn’t mind never seeing or hearing about again.

What was the best book you read in 2014?

Written In My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon, the latest book in the Outlander series.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Sonic Highways by the Foo Fighters. I loved getting to watch how each song came together on their HBO series, and then feel in love with their songs. I’ve always been a FF fan, but this made me love them more and in a new way.

What did you want and get?

A lap desk. A mellow and laid back Thanksgiving holiday. A new phone with a better camera (Thank goodness for Verizon’s free phone offer!). Time with my sisters.

What did you want but did NOT get?

Time ALONE with my sisters. A money tree. A new body.

What was your favorite film of this year?

Uh… I can’t remember seeing many movies this year… Sad story.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 32 and spent the day with my son and my fiance and some of our dear friends. We went bowling, which was something I didn’t think I could do with my RA hands, but I did it and it was awesome! We also had pizza from my favorite place, and cupcakes, which makes everything awesome.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Less stress.

What kept you sane?

My writing. Therapy. My fiance. Our dog. All of our lovely friends who popped in to keep me trucking along ❤

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Sam Heughan, the guy who plays Jamie Fraser in the TV version of Outlander.

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Colin O’Donoghue aka Captain Hook

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What political issue stirred you the most?

I was in an uproar over a few things, others just broke my heart. I’ll say this: I stand for equality for all, and for a safer world for our children.

Who did you miss?

My grandmother. My brother. Misty. My daughter. I always miss my son when he’s not here with us. All of my friends who live near and far, whom I never get to see often enough.

Who was the best new person you met this year?

Kerry! She’s become a dear friend and a lovely support system. Also, with whom else can I sit and reminisce about the 80s?

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

Sometimes you have to just let things go. Accept that you need to put yourself first, and set boundaries, even if the things you have to let go are people you love. You can’t help others at the detriment of yourself.

Quote that sums up your year:

 

Thank you all for following along this past year, and for joining me for this little walk down memory lane. Here’s wishing 2015 is full of all the best for all of us! Happy New Year!

Throwback Thursday, Blogger Style

I sat down to write an awesome post this morning about…something.

I can’t remember. Because I turned on the Discovery Channel for my usual marathon of true crime shows and instead it was some drug wars marathon. Which would have still been fine to have in the background, except they were showing how the cartels use little doggies to carry their drugs by hiding them INSIDE THE DOGGIES.

Yup, I gagged, too. And then I held my own sweet doggy and sniffled a little. Okay, a lot. And whatever I was going to share with you completely went out the window.

So instead, I’ll share a few older posts with you because I’m all sorts of nostalgic now.

I Give You These Three Things

IGiveYou

Even though the giveaway mentioned is long over, I still love the heart of this post. I loved opening up to my readers and showing them a bit of me, and in turn learning a bit of them. If you’re new, or didn’t comment last time, please share with me what you hope your legacy will be.

The Best Memories

The Best Memories

This post shines the spotlight on one of my favorite people. My grandmother touched my life deeply, and the memories of our time together will always be dear to me.

The Giving Tree

TheGivingTree

One of my first guest posts, this message is still something I turn to time and again. My friend Dawnie tells us how taking care of ourselves is the most important, and even shares some of her best tips.

 

I do hope you’ll take the time to check out these past posts and show them some love. I think, in a way, they all show a piece of what this blog is, and what I hope it always will be.

 

 

 

I Found Framily On A Mountaintop

On the Wednesday before Halloween five years ago, a new friend and I headed off for a little road trip. Little did we know our trip would involve a flat tire and being stuck on the side of a mountaintop road for the better part of six hours. Overnight.

Nubs

I met Nolan the same way I met Scotty, in a local internet chat room. Though, to be honest, Nolan and I didn’t chat much. When I finally met Nolan in person, it was in this weird period of time where we were both visiting our significant others and contemplating whether or not to move to be with them.

Since Nolan’s girlfriend and Scotty both worked, he and I often spent our days chatting while looking into relocating. We talked about everything under the sun, though much of our conversations often centered around food. Nolan is a great cook, and I was just starting to consider myself as more than just an “okay” cook. We shared recipes, talked about our favorite chefs, and day dreamed of one day opening a restaurant and writing our own cookbooks.

So on this Wednesday before Halloween, Nolan and I decided to take a road trip together to pick up a few things from our respective home towns to facilitate our moves to this new city. This trip took us damn near all over our great state and just as we were nearing the homestretch, we got a flat tire. On the top of a mountain. In the snow. In the middle of the night.

The car was borrowed, the tools didn’t fit the wheels, we were both dressed for valley weather, and not the snow. I had no cell reception and his battery was dead. We sat huddled outside an abandoned mountain resort office, using the outdoor outlet to plug in his phone so we could call for help. Our help was coming from nearly 3 1/2 hours away, and so we huddled in our respective front seats, occasionally turning on the car for heat. To keep ourselves from going crazy, or possibly giving way to hypothermia, we munched on junk food and talked. Somewhere around 4:00 am, we fell into hysterics. We joked and laughed about things which made no sense. We crafted the nicknames “Nubs and Stubs.”

Most of all, we kept each other sane. And somewhere between our toes going numb and all the Mountain Dew and Redvines, I realized that this guy had worked his way into my heart. I knew no matter what happened, he would always be my best friend.

Help arrived and we got the tire changed. We drove the rest of the way back to our new city, arriving nearly exactly 24 hours after we had left. We were cold, tired, crashing from a sugar overload, and more than a little angry at circumstances. But we had a new friend in each other, and memories to bind us.

Five years later Nolan (aka Nubs) is still my best friend, my adopted brother. We still laugh about that night stuck on the side of the mountain road, though others don’t seem to see the humor we do. Guess you had to be there.

Nolan is family. He will be the one who officiates mine and Scotty’s wedding next summer, and he’s the one I turn to always. There are many who don’t understand our relationship. Many who think men and women can’t be friends without some sort of romantic ish. There are many who swear we’re leading some sort of secret affair behind Scotty’s back. Those people? I feel sorry for them. How sad it must be to not have friends you count as family, no matter their gender. And how horrible it must be to be so mistrusting of those around you. Scotty is more than fine with mine and Nolan’s friendship, he also considers Nolan family. Nolan’s girlfriend, Court (NOT the one from five years ago), is also more than okay with our relationship. She is family. I call her my sister-in-law, and know I can turn to her for anything.

NubsandCourt

Nubs and Court have helped us move three separate times. They come to see Scotty play, and celebrate birthdays with us. We celebrate each others’ kiddos and life moments. They live about an hour away, and sometimes we don’t see each other for months, but it doesn’t change that we are all the very best of framily.

And to think, it all started on the side of a mountaintop with a flat tire.

Who I Am

There’s a country song called “Who I Am” by Jessica Andrews that has always made me smile. I love how she lists all the attributes that make up all the different parts of her. No matter my love-hate relationship with country music, this song is always one I will sing at the top of my lungs.

Recently my friend Megan shared a post she’d written some time ago. While the words were her own, it held all that I love about that song. It told of where she’s from and who she is, all the parts that make her unique. I got goosebumps as I read along and was inspired to write my own. So here, with Megan’s blessing, is who I am…

I am military dress blues and loving my country. I am air shows and gazing in awe at the powerful jets. I am the daughter of a military spouse, fighting the good fight on the home front. I am D.o.D. school in a strange country and learning to speak German so I can order from the local deli for my mother.

I am Mary’s granddaughter, twice over. I am quiet Saturday afternoons in the little rock house on the hill spent with jigsaw puzzles and Merle Haggard on the ancient stereo. I am strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting, blueberry muffins, REAL vanilla cokes, and hot turkey hoagies from Yummies shop. I am nights spent rooting for the Portland Trailblazers and watching In The Heat Of The Night.

I am afternoons spent watching Fraggle Rock with Nancy, my Cabbage Patch doll- named after Mrs. Reagan. I am Rubik’s cubes and classic rock. I am the favorite niece, though we don’t tell anyone.

I am from split homes and blended families. I am without a constant home to say “I grew up here.” I am turmoil and rebellious teen years. I am conflict and tension.

I am red hair, black hair, and every shade in between. I am tall and skinny, awkward and unsure. I am desperate for someone to notice me and terrified they will see too much of me. I am young love with all the wrong boys.

I am the teen mother scared to death of doing something wrong. I am late night rockings and early morning snuggles. I am baby’s first steps at his first birthday party. I am Bob the Builder, Dora the Explorer, Finding Nemo, and Spongebob Squarepants.

I am from “we don’t talk about that” and “suck it up.” I am part of a long line of mental illness. I am anxiety, OCD, and depression.

I am from a line of women who “run to fat after they have babies.” I am a 14 year battle with my body. I am hips that are a little too full for my taste, I am a tummy I wish would just shrink away. I am diets tried and failed.

I am the path to the future.

I am chronic illness and living life despite it. I am advocate, fighter, friend. I am spouse, lover, partner. I am sister, adopted family. I am finding where I belong and carving out my place in the world. I am leaving my mark and finding my passions. I am songs sung behind closed doors and secrets spilled onto a computer screen.

I am love, compassion, understanding. I am change. I am hope.

Thanks For The Memories, They Were Great

It started so innocuously.

My fiance came home from work and said we had plans to meet a coworker and his fiance for drinks. I was nervous, I had no clue if this woman and I would even have anything in common. My fiance had never met her, he was going on the word of his coworker that we would hit it off. Sounds a bit like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it?

Little did I know that I would be meeting one of the greatest friends I’ve ever known.

Kristen and Seth walked into our lives that night and changed everything. Over drinks, Kristen and I got to know each other while Seth and my fiance talked about work, music, and video games. And so a pattern began. Whenever we would get together, the boys would get wrapped up into their own world, and Kristen and I would chatter away in ours.

From dinners where I tricked Seth into eating his vegetables, to nights where Kristen and Seth kept me company while watching my fiance rock the stage. Group hang outs at Denny’s and trips to the craft store with Kristen. Kristen and Seth became some of our closest friends. They asked us to be a part of their wedding last year, and have agreed to be a part of ours next year. They became family.

Today they will be taking the next step in their lives together. They are moving to Canada to be closer to Kristen’s family. We’ve always known this day would come, and for the last six months we’ve steadily been moving towards the goodbyes. But as I hugged them last night, my heart was both sad and happy. While I am thrilled at this opportunity for them, I will miss them with an ache I didn’t know I could feel.

Though they’ll only be a day’s drive away, gone will be the late nights of conversations about anything and everything. They won’t be here to celebrate our birthdays this year or to have a Christmas pajama party. There won’t be a Halloween costume party or mimosas for New Years.

K&S Collage 2

K&S- Words cannot thank you for all the wonderful memories you’ve made with us. While we already miss you, we could not be happier for this wonderful new path in your lives. We know we’ll see you again, and there will be new memories. Thank you for loving us, for all the great times, for the care baskets when I was sick, and for all the times you spoiled us. Thank you for everything, every memory. We love you.

A Symbol Of So Much More

My relationship with my fiance has been far from conventional.

To start, we met online. Not through one of those dating sites like Match or eHarmony. Just a simple chat room where we struck up a conversation about Green Day.

Though we had exchanged pictures, we both will tell you we knew we loved the other before we had ever met face-to-face.

Rather than brave a long distance relationship, I threw caution (and some would say all reason) to the wind and moved over 200 miles to be with him.

Within our first year together, he had helped me through the loss of my daughter and an ovarian cyst rupture. Over our four years, we’ve braved chronic illness, his father’s fall and resulting disability, financial woes, and loss.

Last Valentine’s Day, when he asked me to be his wife while holding a ring from a vending machine, I didn’t think I could ever be happier. Over the Christmas holiday, he talked to my parents and got the approval of them and my sisters. We marked the occasion with a gorgeous vintage black opal ring.

I’ve never been the one for the giant diamond rings. I like simple or unique. I’ve never wanted an engagement ring that we’ll be making payments on for the next five years. Though the opal ring needed to be sized up so I could wear it even when RA has my fingers swelling, I was thrilled with it.

My guy though, he’s always wanted to give me that romantic moment. The big deal, the surprise, the impressive ring. No matter how many times I said I didn’t want or need it, he would not be swayed.

Last night, he succeeded in surprising me and giving me that romantic moment.

Our hairdresser Cathy is more like family. She’s known my fiance since he was ten. More than winning his dad’s approval, I instinctively knew that Cathy would be the deal breaker. If I couldn’t pass her muster, it might be the end of things. I don’t know that I won her over that first visit, but she certainly won me over. Over the years, Cathy has welcomed me into her heart. She has become my family as well as a dear friend. She is a blessing in our lives, and when we told her we were talking marriage, she jumped up and down with us.

What I didn’t know was that for the last year or so, she’s been conspiring with my fiance to give me this wonderful moment.

Ring
A gorgeous blue diamond

Cathy passed on one of her own rings for my engagement ring. They worked together to get it perfectly sized for my swollen finger. It’s simple, unique, and fantastically gorgeous. More than the ring, though, it was a symbol that this woman who is like a second mother to my fiance deems me worthy to be his wife.

Every girl dreams of that moment, the one when everything clicks, when you know your future has been blessed. I thought I had that moment when Cathy jumped up and down with us last spring. I thought I had it again over Christmas with my family, when my parents hugged us and wished us well. No.

I finally had my moment last night when he slipped this ring on my finger. A beautiful gift from a family friend who is more like our guardian angel.

Not many girls get three engagement rings, let alone all from the same man. But I’ve known from day one that he is special. And I’m the luckiest girl alive.

Month of Positivity- My Heart Is Overflowing

MOPBlog

I’m back from my wonderful weekend away with my fiance and boy are my legs tired!

Friday I got to spend the afternoon with my dear friend Kristen. We got a head start on some Christmas shopping and while were snagging awesome deals, we got a chance to catch up a bit. She and I both battle with anxiety and depression and she’s the best sounding board when I just need to spill out all the swirling thoughts in my mind. When I expressed guilt for taking off for the weekend when there were other things that money could go to, she gave me her “Don’t argue with me, Tia” look and said:

“What’s the point in fighting so hard to live if you don’t take the opportunity to LIVE?”

Since she was looking at me like that AND it made pretty good sense, I didn’t argue with her. In fact, I used it as my mantra for the weekend.

Saturday morning my fiance and I dressed warm and comfy and headed out to the beach. We drove along the Oregon coastline stopping wherever our hearts took us. We took photos of the gorgeous ocean, wandered through eclectic antique shops, and smiled a lot. We talked about everything and nothing and held hands as we strolled along the waterfront.

Ocean-blog

On Sunday, we got up early and headed to brunch with my girls and one special little man. I should have been nervous about finally getting to meet Dawnie, but I was too excited. And wouldn’t you know it, she’s exactly the same in person. It was like she just walked out of my computer screen. Brunch was DELICIOUS and we all gabbed about everything. My fiance got to hold Shevaun’s baby and my heart did a little flutter. Our waiter took the blurriest photo ever and then my fiance took a better one. After brunch we wandered around a comic book store and a record store before Dawnie had to catch her flight home. We hugged hard and then we were off in our separate directions.

My Girls
If you think Shevaun looks annoyed, it’s cuz her lil man had just dealt her a blow to the chest. The joys of motherhood, eh?

Afterwards my fiance and I stopped into the world’s greatest book store. We still had a gift card from his birthday, so we looked around for some treasures to take home. He found a guitar calendar for our wall (how apropos!), I found an awesome crossword puzzle book for when I don’t want to be staring at my phone, and my fiance was able to get a book that’s been on his wishlist for a few years. We stopped in the cafe for something to drink and then headed home.

As I collapsed into bed last night, I knew I had pushed myself this weekend. I knew I would be sore and achy today, especially with my monthly shot being due tonight. I couldn’t have cared less. My heart was overflowing with love and joy.

I lived this weekend and it was the greatest thing I could have done. And I plan to do much more of it. The pain is going to be there no matter what I do. I deserve to enjoy life to the best of my abilities and I fully intend to.

What is something you’ve been putting off because of chronic illness?

**Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about my giveaway. Joules is our winner for following along all month long! Thanks to all who participated!

Month of Positivity- Day 11

MOPBlog

November 11, 2013

I’m thankful for my awesome kiddo.

I had my son when I was barely eighteen. I was far from home and fairly clueless. I forged ahead into motherhood with strong ideas of how I didn’t want to raise my son, but no clear idea of how to do much of anything.

Over time I learned how to cook more than mac and cheese from the box. Thanks to help from programs and a great pediatrician, I muddled through bottle weaning and my son’s toddler years. Sometimes when I look back, I wonder how my son has turned into this phenomenal little human.

My son will be thirteen next month. As much as the idea of the teenage years terrifies me (I was a HORRIBLE, SNOTTY brat of a teen.), I’m excited for this next chapter in my son’s life. He’s in seventh grade this year, a near straight A student. He participates in his school’s Knowledge Bowl and spends his Wednesday afternoons helping younger kids in his youth group with their homework. This past weekend he got his first hunting knife and spent time at the deer camp with his father and grandfather in a time honored tradition.

He is growing into a great young man.

He tells us he wants to join the Air Force when he graduates from high school, he wants to work on the fighter jets like his grandfather. He thinks he’ll go to college after he enlists and completes boot camp. He thinks he might like to work with kids like his grandmother does. He knows for sure that he wants to help people in whatever he does.

Whenever I talk to him, my heart just swells with pride. I can’t take all the credit, of course, his father has done a great job. And we’re blessed to have large families with many sources of good role models for the kiddo to look up to.

I don’t know how he became as awesome as he is, but I’m so very grateful to say this cool little human is mine. I’m working on a special birthday gift for my little man. He’s really loving his iPod and is definitely his mother’s son when it comes to his love of music, so we’re probably going to be sending him something to go with that.

My self-care yesterday was a night out…sort of. My fiance and I headed over to spend time with Kristen and Seth, our favorite couple. Kristen and Seth had worked all day, and they all had to work again this morning, so it wasn’t a late and rowdy night by any means. We simply sat around chatting together. It was nice to be able to talk freely with those dear to us and just let go for a little bit. It was a great end to our long weekend.

How did you relax this weekend? Did you participate in any Veteran’s Day activities? Be sure to post your link in the comments so I can follow along!

The Hardest Days

Tomorrow and the next day are two of the hardest days of the year for me.

July 10th and 11th might just be days of the week to most people. Until five years ago, they were just two more summer days to me. To my family.

Five years ago, on a warm Thursday evening, my brother waved goodnight to me and walked upstairs to his room where he typed a final letter to his estranged wife and hung himself in his closet while I slept in the room right across the hall.

The next morning I found him after a co-worker had come to check on him.

Those 24 hours changed my life beyond any other single event. In one act, numerous peoples’ lives changed. I lost my brother, one of my closest friends. My sister lost her hero, as did my young son. My step father lost his first born, the son that was most like him. A brother, an uncle, a nephew, a friend, a grandson, a lover- all were lost to us.

My brother had been battling a dark depression fed by the break up of his marriage. Though just days earlier he had promised to not harm himself and we had thought he was maybe coming back to us, he still took his life.

Depression and mental illness can be crippling. So often we look okay on the outside without ever giving clues to the battle being waged in our minds. We don’t want to look weak, we don’t want to bother our loved ones, we think we can handle it ourselves.

WE CAN’T.

It is NOT weak to reach out, it’s a sign of strength to realize that this is not a battle that should be fought alone. It is NOT a bother to your friends and family. They love you and WANT to help, they just need to know you want help.

WE CANNOT BATTLE DEPRESSION ALONE.

Nor do we have to. There are hotlines and agencies that can help if you feel like you have no one.

From the very bottom of my heart, I beg you to reach out. Don’t leave your family like my brother did. I’m here to tell you, it’s not better without him. I miss him each and every day with a bone deep ache. He’s missed births and family events. He won’t be there for my wedding, instead there will just be an empty chair where he should be. He won’t get to see my son go on to join the Air Force just like his favorite uncle. He’ll never get to hold the babies he so desperately wanted to father.

All because he listened to those lies that depression spread within his mind.

Please, if you’re battling with depression or mental illness, REACH OUT. You are not alone. We’re here to help.